The El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence released a statement on Tuesday “deploring the laggard role of state institutions towards the issue of sexual harassment, which may have serious consequences for Egyptian society”. The centre listed several cases in which the performance of the prosecutor general and the judiciary has been questionable.
One such incident is Case 15,531 of 2012, where a man accused of violently assaulting a woman was sentenced to six months in jail by a misdemeanour court. El-Nadeem said the assault is punishable under Article 268 of the Penal Code.
According to the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, Article 268 defines sexual assault as a sexual crime applicable to cases in which women are groped, among other forms of physical non-voluntary interactions. The crime is considered to be serious and by law should be tried in larger criminal courts with three judges. Sentences should range from three to 15 years in prison.
The second case presented by El-Nadeem is that of a girl who was attacked on the Cairo University campus. Prosecutors did not pursue the case under Article 268 of the penal code, and El-Nadeem said this was erroneous.
Another incident at the Cairo University campus involving sexual harassment in November of last year led to an investigation by the prosecution. A girl was attacked by two men who allegedly groped her and rubbed themselves against her before fleeing and being caught by campus security. The Giza police station released the two on bail for EGP 1,000.
El-Nadeem said the Giza Criminal Court hearing on 21 February saw the two defendants sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment. The hearing mandated monetary compensation for the victim.
On 23 February another girl was assaulted by a Central Security Forces officer who denied all charges. The girl pressed charges, but the prosecution suspended the case based on the fact that the only witness could not attest to seeing the man assault the victim.
The centre said it has submitted a grievance to the prosecutor general to appeal the decision, demanding the case be reopened and the man be referred to the Criminal Court.
“The Nadeem Centre strongly condemns everything that happens within the judiciary in regards to the complacency towards cases of sexual harassment in Egypt – which has reached a dangerous level and cannot be tolerated,” the statement read. The centre added that the complacency of the judiciary could have disastrous consequences on Egyptian society “because women are an integral part of it and cannot be denied their right to live in a peaceful, secure and free environment within Egyptian society”.